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Nobuyoshi Araki

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Nobuyoshi Araki’s “more is more” approach to photography

“Photo devil” Nobuyoshi Araki discusses his freewheeling method of capturing his subjects. He describes how rather than aiming for perfection, he embraces all the noise and flaws that come with shooting whatever he is attracted to in a particular moment.


Nobuyoshi Araki’s “more is more” approach to photography

Nobuyoshi Araki
March 2016

Nobuyoshi Araki: In Japanese we say shaki. It means “photo devil.” Shaki Araki. To me, “to live” and “photography” mean the same thing. “To live” isn’t about sitting properly and staying still throughout your life.

This? [points to himself] It’s me. Photo Devil.

Interviewer: Sorry. We got some beeping sounds of a car backing up, so may we start again?

Araki: Don’t make a fuss! Just deal with it. Not just in recording but even in photography, you need to have noise. The problem with photography is that people have been trying to eliminate excess things to make it look neat and tidy. You may look into a camera and be ready to shoot a subject, but some extra elements may enter or not enter your picture at certain moments. Those kinds of things link the outside world to the inside, and that’s what makes it fun for the person taking the picture. You can’t retake the recording because of a car noise. There is no retaking in photography. You’re not given a second chance. You are capturing that instant, capturing that moment. That’s all you can do. That’s my theory of photography, how I see photography. In other words, I don’t aim for perfection. The objects I photograph aren’t all of the same rank, but they all have their different charms. Flowers are flowers. Women are women, and the sky is the sky. They are all attractive in their own ways. Everything, I take pictures of everything I’m inspired by. What I feel most attracted to at that moment is this. Right here. This frame. This is great! I always joke about this, but the first picture of a woman that I took was at birth. Isn’t it natural to photograph the thing you like the most? It’s that simple. I just point the camera and shoot things that I feel something for. So I’ve been saying I’m a genius, but all those women are the ones who made me a genius. When you take pictures you encounter not just new people but new things. I still want to encounter lots and lots of things!

Interviewer: How would you like to be remembered in the future?

Araki: “Whatever he says, he was irresponsible and fun.” That’s good enough. “And someone who really liked photography and lived within the frame of a photo.” That would be nice.

Interviewer: Thank you very much.

Araki: Phew. I hate serious interviews like this!

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Works in the Collection by Nobuyoshi Araki